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A beginner’s guide to psychosocial safety in the workplace: 5 actions employers can take to support their workforce 

Most full-time employees spend a third of their lives at work. And when so much time is spent at work, it would be unreasonable to expect employees to separate their home life from their work life. Life – unfortunately – doesn’t work like that. So if employees feel the heat and stress levels rise at home, you should expect their work performance to be impacted.  

Almost half of global HR and Benefit Leaders are struggling to improve their work culture. With mental health and stress management being the top two drivers for focusing on employee wellbeing, it shows the ongoing wellbeing crisis businesses are facing.  

What is psychosocial safety at work?

Not to be confused with “Psychological safety”, psychosocial safety encompasses the whole wellbeing of an employee – including their psychological and social wellbeing.

Protecting employees’ safety isn’t new – that’s exactly why we have Health & Safety laws. But what about other aspects of employee health and wellbeing?

Since April 1, 2023, many Australian states have been responsible for their workforces’ psychosocial safety under new Work Health and Safety Regulations changes. Will this legislation be enforced globally? We don’t know. But if the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s better to be ahead of the curve than behind.  

Psychosocial hazards in the workplace to look out for 

  1. Bullying and harassment 
  2. High workloads  
  3. Role conflict 
  4. Low job control 
  5. Poor work relationships 
  6. Workplace violence 
  7. Lack of managerial support 
  8. Inadequate rewards and recognition 
  9. Hazardous physical working environment 
  10. Poor organizational change management

5 ways you can create a psychosocially safe culture

By creating a safe and supportive work environment – whether your teams are in the office, on the road, or at home – not only will your employees thrive personally, but you’ll also benefit from increased engagement and productivity. Here are a few ways you can develop a psychosocially safe culture: 

  1. Develop Your Rewards and Recognition Strategy 

Appreciation and recognition is a human need. And that doesn’t stop in the workplace.

Who doesn’t love a “Great job!” or “Thanks for getting involved; your input really helped this project.”  

If you want your employees to feel respected and appreciated, you need to develop a culture of recognition. This can be through 1:1 meetings with managers, peer-to-peer feedback, or even a simple call out in an organizational meeting.  

2. Encourage Open Communication 

Open and honest communication is important in all relationships. Be it romantic, friends, or colleagues.

If your people know they can speak up about concerns, share ideas, and take risks without feeling like they’ll be scrutinized, you’ll see your teams flourish.  

Plus, you’ll be able to identify and address any psychosocial hazards in the workplace more effectively if you provide a safe environment for employees to voice their concerns. 

3. Provide Flexibility 

Offering flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or flexible hours, can help employees create a work-life balance that suits their individual needs.

For some workers who may experience anxiety, childcare challenges, or even burnout, flexible working arrangements can make working life just that bit easier.  

Good news for employees: 55% of global businesses want to increase their efforts to provide flexibility in 2024. 

4. Train Managers to Support Psychosocial Safety 

If you want to create a more caring and supportive work environment, you must ensure your managers are well-equipped to recognize the signs of psychosocial hazards.  

Research shows that 75% of employees think managers are responsible for creating and shaping their company culture. With so much pressure on manager’s shoulders, they need ongoing support to trust they’re correctly supporting their employees.  

5. Offer Wellbeing Programs 

By offering resources like mental health self-guided content, workout videos, and daily stress management tips, employers can demonstrate their commitment to employee wellbeing and create happier, healthier workplaces. 

In fact, 59% of global HR and Benefit Leaders plan to increase investment into health and wellbeing programs for 2024.  

Finally, businesses are starting to see the incredible return-on-investment employee wellbeing has on their business.  

Virgin Pulse can help you identify psychosocial hazards, put measures in place to prevent risks and review the effectiveness of your risk management. 

Schedule a call with one of our wellbeing experts, and we’ll show you exactly why thousands of global businesses choose Virgin Pulse as their employee wellbeing partner.